A ‘Spectacular’ new year 

In three short years, a show that’s advertised as "celebrating China’s 5,000-year history" spread around the world.

New Tang Dynasty TV developed "Myths and Legends" only in 2004, but this year, there will be 60 performances of it in 26 cities across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend, potentially including as many as 9,000 in San Francisco, where the show is being presented in the War Memorial Opera House from Friday through Sunday.

Sporting fearsome dragons and alluring maidens, many slow melodramatic-balletic scenes, lots of sumptuous costumes, "Myths and Legends" is somewhat hindered by extensive narration and MC-chatter — in English, Mandarin, and occasionally Cantonese.

Besides the big, Radio City Music Hall-type numbers (the show’s New York venue), there are a few smaller, heartfelt performances of traditional music, such as a quartet of Gu Qin (zither) playing "Sublime Phoenixes" and a brilliant Erhu (two-stringed fiddle) solo.

Rather puzzling is how numerous scenes unrelated to China got on the program. They range from Pepper the mime, to excerpts from the Minkus-Petipa "Paquita" — danced by Russian soloists and the Washington School of Ballet — and the Adam-Petipa "Le Corsaire," plus an orchestral performance of the "Waltz of the Flowers" from, yes, Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker," which is not exactly in short supply in December.

NTDTV is a Taiwanese-overseas Chinese company, so don’t expect any mainland Chinese propaganda; quite to the contrary, "Myths and Legends"features several Falun Gong numbers, in support of the religious group persecuted by Beijing. Oh, and there is an evil red dragon, too.

The next Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 18 in the Western calendar. The Year of the Pig (sign for those born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 or 1995) indicates a fine character of chivalry and pureness of heart. The good news for y’all is that "any recent setbacks or obstacles can be overcome in the new year."

If you go

Chinese New Year Spectacular

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $28 to $168

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com or www.newyeargala.ntdtv.com

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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